Category 5 Super Typhoon Yutu Is Lashing US Territories of Saipan, Tinian in the Northern Mariana Islands

Super Typhoon Yutu: 200mph Winds and More Strengthening Expected
  • Super Typhoon Yutu has become the strongest typhoon of record to pass near Saipan and Tinian.
  • Destructive winds, storm surge flooding and flooding rainfall will occur.
  • Guam will experience tropical-storm-force winds, coastal flooding and heavy rain.

Super Typhoon Yutu is striking parts of the Northern Mariana Islands in the Western Pacific Ocean and has become the strongest typhoon of record to pass near the U.S. territories of Saipan and Tinian.

The eye of Yutu has now pushed west of the islands of Saipan and Tinian in the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, located about 120 miles north-northeast of Guam.

Maximum sustained winds remain solidly Category 5 intensity, near 180 mph, as of the latest advisory from the U.S. Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

The intense eyewall of Yutu was clearly visible from the National Weather Service Doppler radar at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, early Thursday before the radar stopped transmitting data. There have been numerous lightning strikes within Yutu’s eyewall, indicative of an intense tropical cyclone.

Winds gusted to 103 mph at Saipan International Airport before wind data stopped transmitting as the eyewall moved in. Some gusts over 50 mph have been measured on Guam, along with bands of rain. 

Current Winds

Typhoon warnings continue for the islands of Saipan, Tinian and Rota, and a tropical storm warning remains in effect for Guam, as well as the far northern islands of Alamagan, Pagan and Agrihan.


Typhoon-force winds (at least 74 mph) will continue to lash Saipan, Tinian and Rota through late Thursday morning local time. Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands are 14 hours ahead of U.S. EDT.

Current Storm Status and Projected Path

(The red-shaded area denotes the potential path of the center of the tropical cyclone. Note that impacts (particularly heavy rain, high surf, coastal flooding) with any tropical cyclone may spread beyond its forecast path.)

Winds of Category 5 magnitude are capable of the following impacts, according to the National Hurricane Center:

– High percentage of framed homes destroyed, with total roof failure and wall collapse.
– Fallen trees and power poles will isolated residential areas.
– Power outages will last for weeks to possibly months.
– Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.

Tropical storm conditions are expected to persist in Guam through Thursday evening local time.

NWS-Guam is forecasting the following peak storm surge inundation with Yutu:

– Saipan and Tinian: Up to 15 to 20 feet on windward sides as Yutu approaches; after the storm passes west of the island, 5 to 7 feet along westward-facing shorelines
– Rota: Up to 2 to 4 feet on windward sides as Yutu approaches
– Guam: Up to 2 to 4 feet on windward sides

The NWS is forecasting seas to increase to 30 to 40 feet near the center of Yutu, with life-threatening rip currents expected from this surf. High surf and rip currents will be felt throughout the Marianas through at least Thursday as Yutu passes through.

Here are the expected additional rainfall totals from Yutu through Thursday, according to NWS-Guam:

– Saipan and Tinian: 6 to 10 inches
– Rota: 4 to 8 inches
– Guam: 4 to 6 inches

This rainfall is likely to trigger dangerous flash flooding and dangerous landslides in higher terrain. A flash flood watch has been issued in the islands through late Thursday night.

Next week, Yutu could eventually pose a threat to the northern Philippines, Taiwan and the Ryukyu Islands of Japan.

It remains too soon to be certain if Yutu will strike any of these locations or if it will simply curl sharply northeastward out to sea. Check back with us at for updates in the coming days as the forecast comes into focus.

Historical Perspective

Yutu is the strongest super typhoon to pass near Saipan and Tinian in NOAA’s historical database.

Prior to Yutu, only three other Category 5 super typhoons had passed within 75 miles of the islands.

The last Category 5 super typhoon to do so was Chaba in 2004.

Yutu rapidly intensified from a Category 1 to Category 5 super typhoon in the 24 hours ending 4 p.m. Wednesday local time.